Wednesday, February 27, 2002
ESBE: Powerful symbols often have quite humble beginnings‘Nkosi Sikilel i’Africa’ is one such symbol. Dramatisation. Setting: late 19th century. A living room. A young African boy in a stiff collar of the time, is sitting at an upright piano with a teacher standing by him. He is doing his excercises. The teacher is watching him intently. Scales and the clicking of a metronome to the same meter as ‘Nkosi Sikilel’.
ESBE: Enoch Sontongo was a Methodist school teacher, and he wrote the original hymn upon which our anthem is based, ‘Nkosi Sikilel i’Africa’ in 1897. Dissolve to Setting: Late 19th century. Montage. Archive footage of Johannesburg, ‘city of gold’, indigenous villages from SA and other parts of Africa, overlaid with photo of Sontongo).

ESBE is small, at the bottom of screen.

We can hear the strains of a hymn. The first incarnation of the anthem played on a piano.
  Montage. Archive photos of African churches, late 19th or early 20th century, exteriors and interiors.

Archive photos of Zulu uprising against the British.

Anthem develops
ESBE: Sontongo’s hymn was such a powerful symbol because it expressed the yearning of all Africans to be free. Dramatisation. Cut to a church. An African man is sitting at a piano. He is composing a hymn. He sings to himself and writes on the sheet music, making changes and singing the hymn. The hymn starts to take shape.
And even though our adopted version is very different, its theme is the same. It’s even sung in four different languages, making it unique amongst national anthems. And it still carries Sontongo’s original message that embraces the entire African continent. A message that today has even more significance for us as South Africans. Dramatisation. Dissolve to a Sunday morning. The church is full and the choir is singing ‘Nkosi Sikilel’ (original version). We hear Sontongo’s original, version in the background, w/sub-titles in English.

God Bless Africa
Lord, bless Africa;
May her horn rise high up;
Hear Thou our prayers And bless us.


Descend, O Spirit,
Descend, O Holy Spirit.
Bless our chiefs
May they remember their Creator.

Fear Him and revere Him,
That He may bless them.
Bless the public men,
Bless also the youth
That they may carry the land with patience and that Thou mayst bless them.

Bless the wives
And also all young women;
Lift up all the young girls
And bless them.
Bless the ministers
of all the churches of this land;

Endue them with Thy Spirit
And bless them.
Bless agriculture and stock raising
Banish all famine and diseases;
Fill the land with good health
And bless it.

Bless our efforts
of union and self-uplift,
Of education and mutual understanding
And bless them.

Lord, bless Africa
Blot out all its wickedness
And its transgressions and sins,
_And bless it.

ESBE: And when Cornelis Jakob Langenhoven sat down in his Oudtshoorn home to write his poem in 1918, he was also inspired by a deep love for his language and for his people, who had suffered the scorched earth tactics and concentration camps of British Imperialism. Dissolve to Montage of archive photos/footage of of the Boer War. ‘God save the King’ segue to ‘Die Stem’.
ESBE: Langenhoven's poem was set to music by Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921. Dissolve to Montage of archive photos of Langenhoven. VO
ESBE: But it was not until 1957 that ‘Die Stem’ became the official anthem of the then Apartheid government of the National Party. Archive montage of the establishment of Apartheid in 1948. ‘Die Stem’ played as it was until 1994.
ESBE: Meanwhile, in 1927 poet Samuel Mqhayi added seven stanzas in Xhosa to ‘Nkosi Sikilel’ and in 1942, Moses Mphahlele published a Sesotho version.

After WWII ‘Nkosi Sikilel’ became popular at political rallies and thus became associated with the liberation struggle both here and in the rest of Africa.

Archive footage and photos of liberation organisations from 1912 until the 1960s. VO
ESBE: And in 1964 it was Zambia which was the first country to adopt ‘Nkosi Sikilel’ as its national anthem following independence. This was followed by other newly independent African countries. Archive footage/photos of celebrations in other, newly independent African nations. Zambia’s version of ‘Nkosi Sikilel’, segue to other versions.
ESBE: So what is the coming together part of our national anthem?

Play it for me.

ESBE with MUSICIAN at piano MC
MUSICIAN: Listen… The musician plays the last refrain from Nkosi Sikelel’ and then ‘South Africa. South Africa.’ MC
ESBE: So in 1994 when the two anthems were joined together, they collectively represent the aspirations and dreams held in common by all our peoples, no matter what our beliefs or backgrounds. Cut to Dramatisation. A young man is sitting at the piano, rehearsing an uptodate version of ‘Nkosi Sikelel’ with other young musicians and singers from diverse backgrounds. We hear a modern version being developed.
MUSICIAN: This bridge is very important. Firstly, it helps to change the key from D major to G major. He plays the different keys to show what he means.  
MUSICIAN: Now I know there are still people who think, oh well, this is where my language begins or ends. But it is actually like the tip of the V in the flag, where diversity comes together and continues as one.   MC
ESBE: The motto in our Coat of Arms is ‘Diverse people come together.’ In our flag, we have the V that extends to the outer edge - a symbol that represents the interlinking of diverse elements taking the road forward as one. Dissolve to Coat of Arms with the national flag waving behind. Fade up soundtrack of anthem.
  Dissolve to band and choir performing the National Anthem. Current anthem.

Lord, bless Africa,

May her spirit rise high up.

Hear thou our prayers,

Lord bless us, your family.

Descend, O Spirit,

Save our nation.

End all wars and strife,

Bless South Africa--South Africa.

Ringing out from our blue heavens,

From our deep seas breaking round;

Over everlasting mountains

Where the echoing crags resound.

Sounds the call to come together,

And united we shall stand.

Let us live and strive for freedom

In South Africa our land!

ESBE: It’s over 100 years since Enoch Sontongo wrote ‘Nkosi Sikilel’ and yet no matter what form it takes or what language it’s performed in, its message rings true;


Dissolve to Boom Shaka’s Kwaaito version of ‘Nkosi Sikilel’. Segue to soundtrack of music video.
Bless Africa. Dissolve to Coat of Arms